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Cultural Heritage

Cultural Heritage at Doughton ParkThe Blue Ridge Parkway is a ribbon of road that weaves through the region’s vibrant living traditions. From Cherokee life and agricultural history to Southern Appalachian crafts and music, the Parkway’s 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina offers many ways to explore rich traditions. 

The Parkway represents a “slice” of America, and each historic site or cabin is a snapshot of one time and one place. Cultural sites here represent about one hundred years – the early decades of the nineteenth century to the early decades of the twentieth century. Those who planned the Parkway and its scenic views thought that the most picturesque and quaint remnants of the past were the log cabins.

In a few places, the early designers removed larger houses and replaced them with smaller rough hewn cabins, complete with reflecting ponds. Although cabins were certainly here in the early days of mountain settlement, many were covered with siding and whitewashed before too many years.

It is also important to remember that there were more homes here in the past than we see today. At places like Rockcastle Gorge, Basin Cove, and the Peaks of Otter, communities of dozens of families lived and worked. Some lived in log houses, others in framed farm houses. In some cases, natural disasters such as the 1916 flood or the Chestnut blight devastated entire mountain communities.

As you visit the Parkway, the historic sites that capture your attention reveal many broad themes of Blue Ridge history. We hope you find stories that challenge you to think about the unique Appalachian culture, defined by arts, crafts, and music that persists in the region. The Cherokee culture that has populated the region and defined much of Appalachian history for thousands of years is preserved on the southern end of the Parkway and reflected in place names throughout the region.

According to some scholars, the herbal lore, basketry, and even some forms of dancing, so much a part of “traditional” Appalachian culture, have roots in the exchange of culture when Europeans and Native Americans met on the Appalachian frontier.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to slow down, listen, and take all of the stories you hear as part of the bigger Blue Ridge story. Together, these are stories that tell us of the richness and wealth of this ancient slice of America.

Visit the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area for more information about the region's rich cultural heritage.

Cherokee Cultural Heritage

Members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians honor and cultivate traditions which have guided and supported their culture for a thousand years. Balancing the modern world with these ancient traditions, the Cherokee welcome millions of visitors each year while stewarding the delicate mountain landscape that is their ancestral home

Music Heritage

Live concerts, festivals and cultural events celebrate the region’s rich musical heritage throughout the year. The Blue Ridge Music Center at Milepost 213 features instrument making, song writing history and concerts that showcase the region’s music traditions such as old-time, bluegrass, ballad singing, blues and sacred music.

Crafts Heritage

Communities along the Parkway’s 469 miles keep living craft traditions alive through a variety of galleries, shops, and events. The Folk Art Center at Milepost 382 is home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, featuring regional crafts, live demonstrations, and special events.

Agricultural Heritage

For thousands of years, Native Americans cultivated the fertile valleys along the Parkway. European immigrants brought agricultural practices with them as they settled in the mountains, but soon adopted and refined many Cherokee crops and techniques. This blending of immigrant agricultural practices with Native American traditions created a distinctive agricultural heritage. Farmers’ markets, restaurants featuring locally grown food and cultural tours along the Parkway highlight the region’s agricultural heritage.  

Natural Heritage

 Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will find:

  • Some of the oldest mountains in the world
  • The highest mountain peak in the eastern United States (Mount Mitchell)
  • The oldest river in North America (New River)
  • The deepest gorge east of the Grand Canyon (Linville Gorge)
  • The highest waterfall east of the Rockies (Whitewater Falls)
  • Abundant biodiversity

Calendar

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The Polar Express™

Thursday, November 27, 2014, 6:00 pm

Marion Mountain Music

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fashions for Evergreens

Thursday, November 27, 2014, 7:00 am

Thanksgiving Family Festivities at Fontana

Thursday, November 27, 2014, 8:00 am

2014 Union Drumstick DASH

Thursday, November 27, 2014, 9:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Thursday, November 27, 2014, 10:00 am

Battle of the Brushes Exhibit

Thursday, November 27, 2014, 10:00 am

Turkey Day Crafts

Thursday, November 27, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Thursday, November 27, 2014, 11:00 am

Thanksgiving Day Buffet

Thursday, November 27, 2014, 11:30 am

The Polar Express

Thursday, November 27, 2014, 5:00 pm

Christmas by Candlelight Tours

Thursday, November 27, 2014, 6:30 pm
28

The Polar Express™

Friday, November 28, 2014, 6:00 pm

Christmas in the Park & Lighting of the Town

Friday, November 28, 2014

Fashions for Evergreens

Friday, November 28, 2014, 7:00 am

Thanksgiving Family Festivities at Fontana

Friday, November 28, 2014, 8:00 am

27th Annual Hard Candy Christmas Arts & Crafts Festival

Friday, November 28, 2014, 10:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Friday, November 28, 2014, 10:00 am

Battle of the Brushes Exhibit

Friday, November 28, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Friday, November 28, 2014, 11:00 am

Holiday Arts & Crafts Market

Friday, November 28, 2014, 11:00 am

Free Guided Walking Tours of Historic Lexington

Friday, November 28, 2014, 3:00 pm

The Polar Express

Friday, November 28, 2014, 5:00 pm

Christmas by Candlelight Tours

Friday, November 28, 2014, 6:30 pm

Old Fort Mountain Music

Friday, November 28, 2014, 7:00 pm

Woody's Original Mountain Music

Friday, November 28, 2014, 7:00 pm
29

The Polar Express™

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 6:00 pm

Christmas in the Park & Lighting of the Town

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fashions for Evergreens

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 7:00 am

Thanksgiving Family Festivities at Fontana

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 8:00 am

Saturdays with St. Nickolas

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 10:00 am

27th Annual Hard Candy Christmas Arts & Crafts Festival

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 10:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 10:00 am

Annual Thanksgiving Kiln Opening

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 10:00 am

Battle of the Brushes Exhibit

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 11:00 am

Fall Stroll Around the Lake

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 2:00 pm

The Polar Express

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 5:00 pm

Santa by Rail

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 5:00 pm

Christmas by Candlelight Tours

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 6:30 pm

Music at the Star

Saturday, November 29, 2014, 9:00 pm
<W
30

The Polar Express™

Sunday, November 30, 2014, 6:00 pm

Fashions for Evergreens

Sunday, November 30, 2014, 7:00 am

Saturdays with St. Nickolas

Sunday, November 30, 2014, 10:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Sunday, November 30, 2014, 10:00 am

Battle of the Brushes Exhibit

Sunday, November 30, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Sunday, November 30, 2014, 11:00 am

Informal Jam on the Porch

Sunday, November 30, 2014, 2:00 pm

The Polar Express

Sunday, November 30, 2014, 5:00 pm

Christmas by Candlelight Tours

Sunday, November 30, 2014, 6:30 pm
           

Highlights & Happenings

  • Rocky Knob & Mabry Mill, MP 169, 176.2
  • These Parkway treasures offer many opportunities for visitors including hiking, camping, picnicking, and one of the most-photographed structures along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Waterrock Knob, MP 451.2
  • An ideal spot for watching sunrise and sunsets across the rugged mountains, Waterrock Knob Visitor Center sits at almost 6,000 feet elevation. Exhibits, book sales, and a trail leading to the summit of Waterrock Knob await visitors. The last hik
  • Julian Price Memorial Park, MP 297
  • A majestic 4,200 acres at the foot of Grandfather Mountain, named in honor of Julian Price, comprises this popular park and lies directly adjacent to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. Together these parks make up the largest developed area set as
  • Doughton Park, MP 240
  • Renew your senses amid this landscape of open meadows. Doughton Park is one of the best places along the Blue Ridge Parkway to view white-tailed deer, raccoons, red and grey foxes, and bobcats.  Flowers burst on the scene in late spring and crea
  • Humpback Rocks, MP 5.8
  • Located at the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Humpback Rocks is an area rich in history, scenic beauty, and abundant hiking trails. Early European settlers forged a living from the native materials that flourished in the Appalachian Mountain
  • Mount Pisgah, MP 408
  • Mount Pisgah’s spectacular views, hiking trails, camping and the Mount Pisgah Inn make this area a popular destination for visitors along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The mountain and thousands of surrounding acres was originally purchased by indust
  • Blue Ridge Music Center
  • The Blue Ridge Music Center is a state-of-the-art performing arts facility built to preserve and promote the historic music of Virginia and the Blue Ridge. The Blue Ridge region has produced more old-time and bluegrass musicians per capita than any o
  • Fall Color - Tips for Leaf Season
  • Tips for planning your scenic drive or vacation to see the fall color along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Hiking Trails
  • A journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway offers motorists spectacular views of Southern Appalachia’s diverse beauty for 469.1 uninterrupted miles.
  • Camping
  • Camping is one way visitors traveling through the Blue Ridge Parkway can spend the night under the stars in one of America’s most beautiful natural settings.
  • Nearby Accommodations
  • Explore the quaint towns and vibrant cities that the Blue Ridge Parkway weaves through, and a variety of lodging choices.
  • Parkway Road Conditions
  • An open Parkway is a safe Parkway. Be sure to check road conditions online or by phone before you travel and during your visit.
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